After a long, hot Summer with a houseful of young people, it’s back to the cold reality of Winter and just my husband and I in the house. Ours has been a truly international household for the last few months with visitors from China and Ecuador. Now my son has gone to University and my daughter has taken off on her gap year the house seems very empty, and a lot tidier!

Empty nest syndrome certainly exists, and reinventing a role for oneself is hard. I gave up my job a few years ago as physical restraints of my disability, along with ageing, was catching up with me – but have still found plenty to do as a mother guiding two teenagers through their final years at school and college.

Most of my friends still work and, at 51, I’m not quite old enough to join the growing number of groups and societies for people who have retired. In a rather weird turn of events I have not had time to wallow in self pity. Firstly, my sister has seperated from her husband and has just reallocated to be nearer us. As well as providing emotional support I am looking after her two dogs while she is at work and, as she’s dyslexic, helping her with her paperwork. Secondly, my mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although it is a huge shock it looks like it is treatable, but obviously she’s got to get through surgery and the following, unpleasant, treatment first. I hope I can be of some help to her through this.

In amongst all this, and finances permitting, I want to carry on travelling – something I regret not doing more of when I was younger. In the New Year I am planning to visit my daughter in Ecuador, South America. Due to the fact that my husband has a fear of flying, I try to ‘cash in’ on my children’s gap year exploits. I visited my son twice whilst he was in China and am really excited about exploring Ecuador.

The old adage ‘as one door closes, another one opens’ seems to particularly apply to my current situation. What’s behind each door is not always pleasant, but for now I will enjoy my tidy house, and hopefully reciprecate some of the support my mother and sister have given me.


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